“Are you Zero Waste because it’s cheap?”

a.k.a. Thinking about common goals and helping each other.

I am a member of a fair number of Facebook groups where people help each other live a more eco friendly life. Not so long ago, something happened that left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. This is what I would like to talk about today.

In one of the groups, we were discussing how some products are more expensive in bulk than in packaging (illogical, I know, but it happens very often). I expressed my opinion and went to do some other stuff on my computer. Suddenly, there was a “ping!”, notifying me of a new comment in the thread. I clicked the pop-up to check it out. There was this person, asking (rather rudely), if we were trying to live waste-free because it was cheap. She, as she was eager to point out, was doing it because of the environment.

It’s true: The Zero Waste movement as we know it today, was created with the intention of protecting our beautiful planet. But this, at least in my opinion, is not a subject where we can get anywhere by arguing, pointing fingers and competing who’s better at it. I think that effort and supporting each other are what really matters here.

The movement has, in its short existence, garnered quite a lot of criticism – most of it regarding the movement’s elitist and exclusive nature. But the movement, in itself, is of course neither elitist nor exclusive. “Zero Waste” is only an idea, of which the end goal is a positive one. It’s the people who are turning these good intentions into a pissing match in which we set ourselves against those who don’t 100% conform to our ideals and we do not give a crap about their circumstances.

Of course I would be so. happy. if everyone just ditched the unsustainable practices and actually started caring for the planet we live on. But how do you tell someone who is barely scraping by to drive several kilometers to another city and buy bulk pasta for three times the price? How do you tell someone who can barely feed their family to go and buy package-free shampoo for 10€ when they can get it in a plastic bottle for a couple of cents? How do you tell someone to care for the environment when their main concern is survival?

I wish everyone had the option to avoid plastic 100-percent. I wish that the makers of eco friendly products (not everyone, of course!) didn’t treat them as a chance to make easy money with something that is fashionable. By sheer logic bulk products should be cheaper because we aren’t paying for packaging. But they often are not.

We are stronger together.

Fortunately, there are several steps towards living Zero Waste that EVERYONE can make. But unfortunately, a big number of those goals are still unattainable, particularly to people who are struggling financially. That’s why it is even more important for us to help each other, instead of tearing each other down for every small mistake and arguing about whose trash jar is the smallest.

This is the main purpose of this website. I didn’t make it so I could brag about my Zero Waste achievements (although it does feel nice sometimes!) Mostly I made it so that I could share what I know with as many of you as possible. I don’t claim to know everything, of course, and because of that I am very happy about every piece of new information. When I get a message from any of you on Facebook, telling me about some new thing for living an eco friendly lifestyle, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. And that is the whole point: we should support each other and help each other because only together we can make the world a better place.

I wish you all the best,

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